45,000 people have attended the demonstration to call for the release of Catalan political and social leaders who are currently in prison, and to denounce the lack of democracy in Spain, according to figures released by Belgian police.
Called by the pro-independence civil society organizations Catalan National Assembly and Òmnium Cultural under the motto ‘Wake up, Europe’, the Belgian police said initially that the number of demonstrators was 10,000, even though finally they stated that up to 45,000 people have attended the gathering.
Original route changed due to large influx
The large influx of demonstrators forced the organizers to change the original route of the march. The Schuman train station, the main station of the European quarter, has also been closed.
Wearing yellow scarves, waving pro-independence flags and banners in favour of the release of Catalan officials and pro-independence civic leaders Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, the demonstrators gathered at the Parc du Cinquantenaire, in the European quarter. Later, the march will pass through the headquarters of the European institutions, including the European Commission, the European Council and the European Parliament.
EU, a ‘guarantee of dialogue’
The pro-independence civic organizations ANC and Òmnium Cultural urged the European Union and the international community to pay attention to the Catalan political situation.
The vice-president of the ANC, Agustí Alcoberro, asked Europe to ‘change its attitude’ and force Spain to start a ‘political dialogue’ that leads to the ‘consolidation of the Catalan Republic.’ In addition, he said that the European flag will ‘soon’ have a new star and that will be ‘yellow’, referring to the color symbolizing solidarity for Catalan political and social leaders that are currently in prison in Madrid.
For his part, the spokesman for Òmnium Cultural, Marcel Mauri, highlighted that Catalonia is a ‘European’ and ‘Mediterranean’ country and urged Europe to be a ‘guarantee of dialogue’.